Thanksgiving 2017

On Vale’s first Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the usual (though no less significant) –

Good health

Good weather

Good food

Good beer

Faithful feline furbabies who tolerate my child

My wonderful husband who always has my back

My forever friends who are constant and steadfast

But this year, most of all, I am thankful for the new little family we’ve created

 

Puke

In February of 2012, I took a 72 hour trip to Taipei (including the approximately 26 hours of flying) to attend my cousin’s funeral after her unexpected death. Of the dozen or so times I’d been to Taipei, this was the first time I was going in the wintertime. Coincidentally, Little V’s name constitutes the first four letters of my cousin’s name; I did not realize this until she was born and an old friend pointed it out to me. That’s what childhood friends are for; they remember details, facts, and stories about yourself, your family, your friends, and are able to have insights and see connections where others may not.

Surprisingly, EVA tickets were cheaper than China Airlines, and I took a window spot on a forest-green colored seat next to a three-year-old child and her mother. Throughout the flight, the three-year-old girl was quiet, pleasant, and drank from a bottle. About 5 hours into the flight, she projectile vomited all the milk in an impressive spray, all over the seats (fortunately missing me), and her mother literally tried to catch her puke in her cupped hands as she frantically called for assistance from a flight attendant.

Of course, the EVA attendant was gracious and helpful; she brought towels and changed out the puke seats (it had not occurred to me that airlines keep extra seat cushions around for such occasions). My feeling at the time was simultaneously of horror and humor. I horrified because it was gross and I felt terrible for the mother, but part of me also wanted to laugh (a little) at the unfortunate occurrence.

Five and a half years later, now that I am a mother myself, and am pretty much constantly wiping and cleaning spit-up and puke, and frequently getting spit-up all over my body, my clothes, my sheets, and my furniture, the EVA air experience in retrospect seems a little less funny, and also a little less gross.

Little V Is One Month Old

October just arrived and I took some one month photos of Little V. She was a little fussy about it, but complied after a change and two feedings. I had fun with some cat ears a dear friend sent along for Little V, as well as a skull I bought from a bone church in the Czech Republic. Here comes the Halloween season!

As I write this, we are having another typical day. I read poetry from the Tang Dynasty to her, did some tummy time, and we are listening to music again. Dear God…Did you make disease and the diamond blue? Did you make mankind after we made you? And the Devil too! Followed by something a little lighter, Bebel Gilberto’s version of Girl From Ipanema. 

Ah, por que estou tão sózinho?
Ah, por que tudo é tão triste?
Ah, a beleza que existe
A beleza que não é só minha
Que também passa sozinha

This week, Little V’s neck strength improved significantly, and we were able to take her out to exercise on steep hills in the neighborhood in her jogger without her head constantly flopping forward. It feels like this happened overnight; half a week ago, I aborted the workout because I constantly had to adjust her head while walking up the hill.

We took her to a few social outings, including to the park to meet some friends (she slept through the whole thing), and to grandma and grandpa’s house to hang out with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. She has continued to do tummy time at home with grandpa, and was a bit of a showoff with her bottle skills when friends came to visit over the weekend. Apparently, she likes needs an audience to prove her competence.

Little V also went to the beach for the first time on a clear, bright, Monday, with mom, dad, and grandpa. She experienced southern California beach life on a week day morning – not a soul about (not even a surfer) except for us and a couple of dudes who were likely non compos mentis, yelling at seagulls and ranting nonsense to each other.

Little V’s Week 2

We’ve gotten into a routine, and the best way to describe it is Little V eats and sleeps non-stop but not at the times and intervals I would prefer. She is conked out during the day, sleeping through vacuums, telly, music, chatter, car rides, etc., but becomes fussy when it’s actually bedtime.

She quickly regained her weight and surpassed her birth weight by the 2-week doctor’s visit. Eager to compensate for the previous B(-) in weight gain, she put in her most extreme efforts and literally gained a pound in a week. She was about 7 pounds when weighed at the first lactation group I attended, and was over 8 pounds when I returned to the group a week later. She literally developed a double chin in a matter of about 2 days, and her limbs quickly grew chunky. While the lactation consultant advised everyone babies should have at least 6 dirty diapers a day, Little V had twenty two on her busiest day this week. We went through multiple packages of diapers and baby wipes, and it’s been a bit baffling.

This week, we made it to the grocery store with her, and also met some friends and their 3-month old at a cafe to listen to some live music. Little V slept through all of it. We also attempted twice to go on a walk with the jogger. The first time, she screamed her head off again, but the second time was a success. Hopefully, it sticks.

She’s smiling more and more, and occasionally even laughs in her sleep. She also frequently has a concerned look on her face, as if she’s not quite sure what to make of this world.

Week 39

Monday

I met a friend, who is also pregnant for lunch at Panera. She’s in the process of switching over to my OB-GYN because she was somewhat displeased with her (mine has been awesome up to this point!) Work flew by because I charged through a couple of projects I wanted to wrap up before leaving. After work, I did a couple of yoga videos.

Tuesday 

Work went by fairly quickly again, and I met another friend for lunch. I don’t usually eat out for lunch very often, but I figured now is the time to make last-minute time for good friends before Fetus makes her appearance. (Hey, think of all the money I’ve saved by not drinking alcohol these past 9 months!)

I’ve been trying to eat healthier, but I decided YOLO and suggested Persian. It’s not that Persian food is necessarily unhealthy, but I love it a lot and tend to go overboard. We met at this place with a sweet ass lunch special. They give you a small basket of bread and olives as soon as you are seated, and then the salad bar alone is glorious;  I treated myself to cucumber and tomato salad, tabouli, dolma, pickled veggies, and dates. The two of us shared the eggplant stew and a koobideh kabab that came with the usual roasted, juicy tomato and buttery saffron rice. Yeah, you try ordering this stuff and not going overboard.

The lunch was so lavish and abundant I even had leftovers to take home for husband, who enjoyed it as well. To think, there once was a time he hated Persian food! I’m glad I turned him away from a life of sure deprivation.

This put me in a great mood the rest of the day, and I compensated after I got home with some weight exercises (triceps dips, wide squats with a 20 pound weight, wall sits, bridge lifts) and a little bit of yoga.

Wednesday

Very tired. I successfully limited my liquid intake after 8:00 p.m. the night before and did not wake up much to pee… but did wake up for no reason at 3:00 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. We went to a doctor’s appointment, and I’m not dilated, though she said this is not any kind of predictor as to when I would go into labor. I was not particularly motivated to exercise after work, but managed some triceps dips and about an hour of yoga.

We went through a big box of baby clothes our neighbor kindly gave us, and sorted them by size. Most of them were boy items, but it’s not like babies really care. Girls can dress up as frogs and bears too. Although the onesie that says “Lock up your daughters!” really might be a little odd.

Thursday

Had lunch with boss and clients at Bentley’s. I ordered a Cobb Salad with the Mandarin ginger dressing instead of bleu cheese dressing. It came in epic proportions, but I think with the hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, and veggies, it was still a healthier choice. On the other hand, the baked Brie appetizer with onion dip and berry jam were not.

After lunch, I stopped by Champagne Bakery, located in the same shopping center. I used to go to the one in Irvine all the time in high school, when a friend of mine worked there. I’d hang around and chill toward the end of his shift and wait for him so we could hang out. He introduced me to French desserts such as Creme Brulee, for which I have developed a lifelong love, meringues, and custard brioche. He eventually was fired for stealing from the cash registers, but my best friend in high school later also worked here, so I continued to be a regular fixture for some time.

On this occasion, I stopped to get desserts for our wedding anniversary. Although I had planned a trip to the Cravory, which has oddly flavored cookies that are amazingly tasty (e.g. balsamic rosemary – who knew this could be so delicious?), I changed my mind and was drawn to Champagne instead. I got husband a slice of Princess cake and a berry tart for myself. It was tough choosing between the berry tart and Creme Brulee. Creme Brulee usually wins over all else, but maybe pregnancy has had an effect on my taste? Also, the berry tart is just aesthetically quite a bit more pleasing. I also bought a raspberry macaron for myself and ate it on the way back to work. Stayed tuned for weight gain.

We walked a nearby hill 3 times for exercise, then rushed to the Bahn Mi place for dinner before closing time. The sandwiches were delicious and we could not believe we’d taken so many years to finally try this place.

Weekend

Friday, I went for a foot/body prenatal massage combo and it was amazing. There’s a place I’ve gone to a couple of times now that is sort of a good mix between discount massages and a spa experience. It’s more money than a cheapo Asian place, but the skill level and atmosphere are also better. The atmosphere is not quite at the level of a more professional spa, as I’ve never been to a luxury spa where the masseuse is wearing shredded denim capris or smells vaguely of cigarettes, but I’ve seriously gotten two of the best massages ever here, irrespective of price, so I’m a fan.

Saturday, I did some stretches and we did the  steep hiking trail hill by our old house once, which was nice. Later in the day, we went to the beach and did some meditation practice and I did some more stretching on the beach. I haven’t gone to Yoga class since I finished up my 10-class package, but a lot of the poses and stretches I learned in class have been immensely helpful, particularly toward the end of the third trimester.

Sunday, I walked the same hill twice and it was a big mistake. It tired me out for the rest of the day and made me grouchy. For the future, I will remember the oft-repeated advice regarding not pushing yourself too much during pregnancy. It is not the time. I think it’s good to push myself to get some type of exercise even when I’m feeling lazy, but maybe not to push it to uncomfortable limits e.g. long hikes, too much cardio, too much heat. Certainly it’s not harmful and it might be helpful for staying in shape, but the toll it takes on the rest of the day and sometimes the day after is not worth it. Sort of like a bad hangover. Except I didn’t have the pleasure of drinking, and instead of dehydration and a headache, I’m grouchy, irritable, and tired.

Sunset Boulevard II

She misjudged, flooded her burning unrestrained veins, and while she fearfully fantasized she would fall in love to a symphony of bad songs again, her quiet friend in the corner was feeling a secret silence creep in from the corners of the diner. The flash of lights and obscene billboards of Sunset Strip beat against the surreal levity of everything else, melting into a smooth bleeding in their favorite wasteland.

The three of them fell asleep in bed together, in the room at the end of a small hallway of mirrors, an unfinished bottle of Hennessy left on the nightstand

One of them whispered but I want to continue my amphetamine romance as she drifted off to gray beach mists steaming around, a quiet, solitary expanse, and white breasts catching warm sun rays on a Mexican beach

When she heard her mother’s name called she opened eyelids to sunshine piercing its way through heavy blinds, spilling across the wall panes of glass

The New Typical Saturday

Weekends have changed a bit since being pregnant. Waking up late hungover is no longer an option, and since I don’t party all night, I don’t sleep in as much. Even so, I love sleeping in, so it was sort of a big deal that I woke up at 8:20 a.m., drank some coffee, had husband snap a “Week 23” picture, brewed some caramel macchiato flavored coffee, and headed off to yoga. I’m not in the habit of taking pictures of myself half asleep in gym clothes, but I noticed that my outfit was unintentionally extremely pink and obnoxious (hot pink shirt, purse, yoga mat) and husband found it amusing.

 

After yoga, I played some Chopin for Fetus: an etude and the Fantasie Improptu. She wasn’t impressed. No kicking, no response. Sort of like how my cats flee the room when they see me reach for the guitar, except Fetus is imprisoned inside me and has no choice. Afterwards, I finished up some chores. Husband had to go into work on a Saturday, so I went to lunch with Tony and Belen (also preggo). We first went to a smoothie shop in San Marcos called Disfruta. I got there a little before them, and scanned the menu, which was entirely in Spanish. This was exciting because it makes getting a smoothie near your house feel like a foreign adventure.

Fortunately, I had learned lots of fruit names on DuoLingo, and further, have a shortcut to Google Translate on my phone. I ended up ordering a Jugo Berry (berry juice) and Belen and Tony ordered smoothies. The berry juice was basically pure blended berries, probably consisting of strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. I didn’t think any sugar was added, and it was totally amazing. Belen and Tony ordered smoothies; I tried theirs, and they were really good, though I am partial to the simplicity of pure juice.

Next, we hit up Mi Rancho Market in Escondido again for the best tacos on the face of the earth. This award as determined by me has been stripped from Tacos El Gordo and bestowed upon Mi Rancho. I ordered the adobada and lengua, which I had last time and loved. They were just as good this time. On this day, Belen also pointed out they had birria de chivo (goat) tacos, and so I had to get one of those. The first and only time I had birria was in Rosarito in November, and this was a pleasant surprise. The birria taco was juicy and delicious and I wished my stomach was bigger so I could have a few more.

 

We went to the mall afterwards, where Belen wanted to check out the maternity section at Macy’s. The maternity section was fairly predictable. Everything was boring and frumpy as fuck, and the sale items weren’t very cheap, so I changed strategies. I went to the junior’s and women’s section, and bought items in larger sizes and/or stretchy material. I ended up getting a a $6 dress, a $7 sweatshirt, and another $7 dress. I did splurge just a little and buy a really pretty maxi dress with cherry blossoms on it for $24 (gasp!)

Next, I went across the way and bought a large stretchy pencil skirt at Cotton On, and another dress for $15. Seriously, fuck maternity clothes. They are hideous, and a total rip-off (but maybe check with me again in 3 months to see whether this strategy is still viable at 7-8 months pregnant). While I was trying on about 20 items, Tony and Belen wandered off to Brookstone and other stores, then made their way back to me. I told them I was at Cotton On, but I happened to be in the changing room when they showed came back:

I met them at Spencer’s. I probably had not been inside a Spencer’s since high school and had no recollection of this store stocking sex toys, but there it was – a big wall of dildos indeed, in pretty much every color of the rainbow.

Announcing Pregnancy

Everyone knows the 3-month rule. Due to the higher chance of miscarriage in early pregnancy, many, if not most, like to keep things under wraps until the second trimester. I did not follow this approach for a few reasons, however.

While the risk of miscarriage in known pregnancies is, according to Dr. Google, 10-20 percent in the first 20 weeks, the odds still appeared to be largely in my favor. I also considered the fact there are no known miscarriages in my family and I’m pretty healthy. Whether these are scientifically sound reasons for being optimistic, I can’t say, but that was my thought process.

I balanced these odds with the absolute certainty that within a week or two, I’d find myself at a party, uncharacteristically without an alcoholic drink, and would face questions about being pregnant and have to lie. I knew this with absolute certainty, because there was one occasion on which I attended a baby shower after a night of brewery hopping. As I had indulged sufficiently the night prior, I decided to take it easy on the alcohol at the baby shower. I was one of the earlier guests, and actually did help myself to a mimosa, but after that, I refrained with the exception of a virgin Bloody Mary, which is nice the day after drinking. Also, I hate vodka and love tomato juice, so I always drink Bloody Marys virgin, but I do not do this frequently, so not many people know this.

Subsequently, my husband received several text messages from his friends insisting they “knew” I must be pregnant, because none of the girlfriends or wives saw me imbibe alcohol at the shower, and in fact, saw me order a virgin drink. The texts were so adamant my husband actually called me on the way home from work to ask tentatively, “You’re not pregnant… are you?”

So I had a pretty good idea that any time I’m caught without alcohol, there would be questions. I am not a good liar and I could see myself being really awkward with this. Further, I’d have to make up a lot of lies if I was seeing people or being invited places over the course of 3 months.

Additionally, while you never know until it happens to you, I did not think I’d be the type to be completely devastated if I miscarried. Surely, it would be frustrating, but I suspected I would tell myself it was my body’s way of rejecting an organism not meant to be born, and doubted I would become a total emotional wreck. I balanced the relatively unlikely possibility of having to tell multiple people I miscarried with the absolute certainty of telling many awkward lies, and decided the awkward lies would be worse for me.

We told parents and family almost immediately, followed by close friends. Everyone else, we told if they asked or if it somehow came up. We did not go out of our way to share on social media or make any type of formal announcement. To be honest, for me, the beginning was characterized by a certain level of anxiety, and I didn’t want to feel like I had to put on an act for everyone about how exciting and joyous this all is. Maybe that makes me weird, but it’s the truth, and I was not inclined to put on a fake show. You can fool the world, but you cannot fool yourself, nor should you try to.

[Note: pictured above indeed is our little fetus, not a cat sitting on a plank, however appropriate that might be.]

Being Preggo: The Good Parts

Doctor’s Appointments

Ultrasounds are fun! It’s amazing what medical technology has done for humanity. Just a couple of months in, you can see your little fetus bouncing around and waving her hand inside your belly. It’s neat-o. She looks like a little alien and sucks her thumb. By the time of the anatomy scan around 20 weeks, they have the ability to scan the entire fetus organ by organ, to ensure everything is in its right place and in developmental order. But don’t think for a minute this has eroded my rabid support for abortion and reproductive rights.

Friends

People are quite supportive and friends you may not even have been very close to will periodically check in on you, which is very sweet and thoughtful. Also, the bar is considerably lowered for you in terms of life. You will be praised for doing mundane things like actually wearing heels and not looking like a total slob when leaving the house, and people will ask if you are capable of a 15-minute walk. You will feel like a champion just for getting through the bare minimum requirements of life. Just kidding. This is actually not entirely a good thing.

I am also incredibly fortunate in that I have many friends who are pregnant at the same time as me (it’s an “we’ve hit the early thirties” thing). They are there to share experiences and advice, give good book recommendations, and be positive when I’m not feeling so sure (or to reaffirm that they are not so enthusiastic about the same things, either!). I have 5 other friends having babies this year, so I feel less alone in this. This kind of support is priceless.

The Angst

This was on the complaints list as well, but there’s an aspect of this I suspect I have missed, and I somewhat welcome its return. It’s nice to have a head full of thoughts and ideas, however disjointed, nonsensical, and fleeting they are. I had two moments, one involving Donald Trump, and the other involving a lost cat that incited in me a uncontrollable word-vomiting in the form of angry blog posts. It’s not the best in terms of emotional regulation, but having been dry on ideas for some time, it was refreshing to be reinvigorated again.

I entered two poetry contests for absolutely no reason. I do not even write poetry but my husband’s cousin posted a link of random free writing contests for the month of March and one thing led to another. Since I can’t blog about beer anymore, I flipped through journals from 12 years ago and sorted through my thoughts and words from what seems like a lifetime ago, to turn them into blog posts. It was like a 20 year old me left behind pieces of a puzzle for 32 year old me to put back together. If I really want to keep this up I have 12+ journals worth of junk to sort through, but we’ll see what whims strike next.

The Thorn

These haikus came to mind while I was awaiting my turn to be heard by a judge at a court hearing.

Thorn I

Many years ago

She was warned but did not heed

Now she must atone

 

Thorn II

She glanced at his soul

Perceived a bitter rotting

Silently, she left